If you are a member and have anything that you feel is important to chemical free beekeeping, please email it to me. I will post it in this section in a future issue.

Where ever you live in the world you should apply the information on working your bees that is given below when the weather conditions in your area are right. So take notes and be ready.

Cletus Notes

 Here in Texas and many other parts of the South, beekeepers depend on the tallow tree for their main honey flow this time of year. Unfortunately, the state of Texas lists the tallow tree as an invasive species and does its best to remove it when possible. Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s during my commercial beekeeping days, the tallow tree was very abundant south of Houston all the way  to the gulf coast. Today, you might find 10% of the tallow trees left in those areas. The tree has been removed for agricultural needs, residential building and of course from the states crack down on the tallow species.

For those of us who have depended on the tallow tree for needed surplus honey are currently moving our bees into the tallow areas. The flow in our area usually starts around the last week in May and will last around three weeks if the weather conditions have been good.

We will spend the last week of June and first part of July pulling the honey surplus off the hives and getting it extracted. For the small operator, this tallow flow is what they depend on for their beekeeping income for the year. If they don’t make a good tallow surplus, they will have to wait until the next year and try again. The larger operator will truck their bees out of Texas after the tallow flow to other parts of the country. They usually chase the different honey flows around the country to maximize their income.

With good beekeeping skills, good weather and a good nectar source, beekeeping can be fun and profitable. Enjoy your bees.

Dennis

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 It has always amazed me how the so called “experts” are always so far behind. I’ve been discussing the chemical use subject until I’m blue in the face for eight years and five of those years have been right here on our club website. What’s the expression of a few years ago? DAH!    Dennis

This article was sent in by Costa Kouzounis.

Scientists May Have Finally Pinpointed What's Killing All The Honeybees

Where have all the honeybees gone?

A new study seems to strengthen the evidence linking pesticides used on crops to colony collapse disorder in honeybees.

Colony collapse disorder, or CCD, is a phenomenon in which honeybees inexplicably disappear from their hives. The bodies of the dead bees are typically never found.

Researchers led by Chensheng Lu of Harvard University have pinpointed the collapse of honeybee colonies on a class of pesticides known as neoniotinoids — insecticides that also act as nerve poisons and mimic the effects of nicotine. Scientists specifically looked at how low doses of two neoniotinoids — imidacloprid and clothianidin — affected healthy bee hives over the course of a winter.

The results of the study "reinforce the conclusion that sub-lethal exposure to neonicotinoids is likely the main culprit for the occurrence of CCD," the authors wrote in their paper, published May 9 in the Bulletin of Insectology.

Disappearing Bees

Colony collapse disorder was first widely reported in America in 2006. Since then, a complex web of factorshas been attributed to the mass honeybee die-offs, including everything from disease, parasites, and poor nutrition to the stress of being trucked around the country each year to pollinate different orchards.

Many scientists have theorized that a combination of these factors with exposure to pesticides could be causing the CCD phenomenon.

In contrast, the new study found that long-term exposure to small amounts of neonicotinoids wasn't compromising the bees' immune resistance to pathogens — the hives had just as many infections when they weren't exposed to pesticides. This suggests that "neonicotinoids are causing some other kind of biological mechanism in bees that in turn leads to CCD," according to a release.

The Experiment

In October 2012, the Harvard team setup 18 hives at three locations in Massachusetts. At each location, four hives were fed high fructose corn syrup laced with neoniotinoids and two were left untouched. Researchers planned to monitor the hives over the winter since that's when the die-outs occur.

By the spring of 2013, researchers said half of the colonies treated with pesticides had abandoned their hives — the key symptom of CCD. The ones that were left weren't in good shape. Their honeybee clusters were very small and either lacked queen bees or developing bees, the study noted. Only one of the untreated colonies was lost, and in that case the bees' bodies were actually inside their hives and showed symptoms that appeared to be caused by a type of parasite.

A chart shows the diminishing number of bees in imidacloprid- and clothianidin-treated colonies (the red and blue lines, respectively) between October 2012 and April 2013.

The new study replicates a previous experimentdone by the same group in 2010. In that study, the team only tested imidacloprid and found a higher rate of collapse — 94% of pesticide-treated colonies disappeared. They think the disparity might be related to a colder winter, which stresses the bees and exacerbates the effects of pesticides.

It's still not clear what role neonicotinoids play in causing the honeybees to leave their hives during the winter, but the researchers suggest it could be "impairment of honey bee neurological functions, specifically memory, cognition, or behavior."

It's been previously suggested that neonicotinoids affect the bees' ability to remember how to get back to their hives. The bees get lost, which would explain why beekeepers usually can't locate the dead bodies.

Study Challenges

Some bee researchers have found several things to gripe about with this study, including the small sample size, which was also a criticism of the initial experiment. At IFLScience.com, entomologist Jake Bovanotes that hive abandonment is not a definitive sign of CCD. "Honey bees may abandon their hives for any number of different reasons, and this study doesn’t control for any of them."

Other critics have taken issue with the delivery method of the pesticides. In response to the 2012 study, May Berenbaum, head of entomology at the University of Illinois, noted to The Boston Globe that there's been "no evidence of neonicotinoids in commercially available high fructose corn syrup" and that fact "undermines the premise of bees being exposed to pesticides through the food provided by beekeepers."

Further, The Examiner's James Cooperpoints out the study was published in an "obscure Italian journal" with a measly impact factor of .375(for comparison, the journal Science, one of the most reputable in the world, has an impact factor of 31.027).

Cooper also said the authors "do not account for the fact the France still observes CCD each year, even though they banned neonicotinoids 5 years ago."

Three neonicotinoids are currently banned in the European Union, but these pesticides are still widely used in the United States. Most corn planted in the U.S. is treated with neonicotinoids — and while bees don't pollinate corn, they are exposed to the chemical since the corn's pollen floats to flowers and other crops nearby.

Our World Without Honeybees

Objections to the study seem to belie the fact that any research on colony collapse disorder gives much-needed attention to a global crisis that puts us all at risk. One-third of the food we eatdepends on insect pollination, mostly by honeybees that are raised and managed by beekeepers. There is no good replacement for honeybees, which are easy to manage in masses and are unmatched in the variety of crops they can pollinate — everything from apples and cherries to broccoli, pumpkins, and almonds depends on honeybees.

Over the last six years, American beekeepers have lost 30% of their hives each winteron average.

The Harvard study comes out just before the United States Department of Agriculture is set to release its annual reportof winter honeybee losses. In a media alert, the department said that losses are "expected to be significant due to several contributing factors, including exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides."

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Yearly Survey Shows
Better Results for Pollinators,
but Losses Remain Significant

USDA Office of Communications Press Release

USDA Announces Fall Summit on Bee Nutrition and Forage; Launches
"Bee Watch" Website to Broadcast Bee Activity and Increase
Public Awareness of the Role of Pollinators in Crop Production

 WASHINGTON, May 15, 2014 - A yearly survey of beekeepers, released today, shows fewer colony losses occurred in the United States over the winter of 2013-2014 than in recent years, but beekeepers say losses remain higher than the level that they consider to be sustainable. According to survey results, total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 23.2 percent nationwide. That number is above the 18.9 percent level of loss that beekeepers say is acceptable for their economic sustainability, but is a marked improvement over the 30.5 percent loss reported for the winter of 2012-2013, and over the eight-year average loss of 29.6 percent.

More than three-fourths of the world's flowering plants rely on pollinators, such as bees, to reproduce, meaning pollinators help produce one out of every three bites of food Americans eat.

"Pollinators, such as bees, birds and other insects are essential partners for farmers and ranchers and help produce much of our food supply. Healthy pollinator populations are critical to the continued economic well-being of agricultural producers," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "While we're glad to see improvement this year, losses are still too high and there is still much more work to be done to stabilize bee populations."

There is no way to tell why the bees did better this year, according to both Pettis and Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland assistant professor who is the leader of the survey and director of the Bee Informed Partnership. Although the survey, conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Maryland Bee Informed Partnership shows improvement, losses remain above the level that beekeepers consider to be economically sustainable. This year, almost two-thirds of the beekeepers responding reported losses greater than the 18.9 percent threshold.

"Yearly fluctuations in the rate of losses like these only demonstrate how complicated the whole issue of honey bee heath has become, with factors such as viruses and other pathogens, parasites like varroa mites, problems of nutrition from lack of diversity in pollen sources, and even sublethal effects of pesticides combining to weaken and kill bee colonies," said Jeff Pettis, co-author of the survey and research leader of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

The winter losses survey covers the period from October 2013 through April 2014. About 7,200 beekeepers responded to the voluntary survey.

A complete analysis of the bee survey data will be published later this year. The summary of the analysis is at
http://beeinformed.org/results-categories/winter-loss-2013-2014/.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also announced today that it will hold a summit this fall aimed at addressing the nutrition and forage needs of pollinators. The summit will take place in Washington D.C. on October 20-21 and will be attended by a consortium of public, private, and non-governmental organizations. Attendees will discuss the most recent research related to pollinator loss and work to identify solutions.

Additionally, today USDA launched the People's Garden Apiary bee cam at the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. as an additional effort to increase public awareness about the reduction of bee populations and to inform Americans about actions they can take to support the recovery of pollinator populations. The USDA "Bee Watch" website (
www.usda.gov/beewatch) will broadcast honey bee hive activity live over the Internet 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Created in 2010, the People's Garden Apiary is home to two beehives. The bees are Italian queens, the most common bee stock and the same used in many honey bee colonies throughout the United States.

In March of 2014, Secretary Vilsack created a Pollinator Working Group, under the leadership of Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, to better coordinate efforts, leverage resources, and increase focus on pollinator issues across USDA agencies. USDA personnel from ten Department agencies (Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Farm Services Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Economic Research Service, Forest Service, Agricultural Marketing Service, Risk Management Agency and Rural Development) meet regularly to coordinate and evaluate efforts as USDA strives toward improving pollinator health and ensuring our pollinators continuing contributions to our nation's environment and food security.

Earlier this year, USDA made $3 million available to help agriculture producers in five states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan) provide floral forage habitats to benefit pollinating species on working lands. The Honey Bee Pollinator Effort is intended to encourage farmers and ranchers to grow alfalfa, clover and other flowering habitat for bees and other pollinators.

The President's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal provides $71 million for pollinator health activities through multiple USDA agencies. This includes an increase of $40 million in combined mandatory and discretionary funds to advance efforts, in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency and other Federal partners, to respond to the decline in honey bee health and ensure their recovery. This coordinated effort is focused on targeted research that addresses multifactorial stressors, their interaction, and identification and implementation of measures to improve and increase habitat available to pollinators on Federal and private lands. In addition, this initiative will help prevent introductions of invasive bees, bee diseases, and parasites; document the status of honey bee health factors associated with bee losses and honey bee production; and work with stakeholders on best management practices. A coordinated communication strategy, including outreach and education, will engage the public to help solve this important challenge.